Friday, August 1, 2008

Book Review - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Hello faithful readers,

I know, it has been way too long since I've posted to our blog. Darcy has been so much better about that than I have this past month. But today being August 1st, I have firmly resolved August will not get away from me - I WILL post, especially when I've read a delightful book I want to share.
Lucky you, dear readers, because I just finished such a book yesterday, and so I will post about it now!

First, this title - it's absolutely yummy. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Doesn't that make you want to dive right in and take a big bite out of the book itself? What is this society? What's Potato Peel Pie? Who is in it, how did it get started - so many questions come to mind when you read such a deliciously convoluted title. Ah, and the book does it's part to answer them.
The book itself is an epistolary novel (thank you to Emily Crowe for supplying me with that word; for the life of me I couldn't remember what it was), which means it is told entirely in the form of lette
rs. And they're good letters too! I love this form of novel because it feels so much more intimate. You're not just getting this tale, you're getting the thoughts and feelings behind the actions, which for some reason people feel so much freer and more able to put down on paper (in the form of letters) than when they're verbally describing a situation. If all the letters don't actually describe the situation, then they serve to tantalize you with glimpses of the plot and tease you into reading more!
The letters are all to, from, or about Ms. Juliet Ashton, the central character in this novel - an absolutely delightful woman who is a writer by trade, so her letters are wonderfully descriptive, yet nonetheless are never verbose and always leave you wanting to read whatever letter comes next. She receives a letter herself from a man on the island of Guernsey who had purchased a book written by Charles Lamb, which had been previously owned by Ms. Ashton. He writes her to say that he really enjoys this first taste of Charles Lamb and wonders if she would be able to help him in procuring more works of similar literary quality and merit. Ms. Ashton takes up a correspondence with Mr. Dawsey Adams (the man who wrote her), and is thus introduced to the society he is apart of - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The current year being 1946, people are still recovering and rebuilding their lives from the devastation of World War II. This society was begun during the German occupation of the Channel Islands, of which Guernsey is a part. Soon Juliet is corresponding with many of the members of this society, slowly uncovering the stories of German wartime occupation - the love, loss, friendship, and courage that occurred on this isolated island during the war - and getting a first-hand look at what that means in her own life.
No part of this book disappoints. I simultaneously wa
nted to rush through it to see how and what happens, and never wanted it to end. Now that it has ended, I'm sending it to three people I know, and starting it all over again myself. For fans of The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, and/or Letters from an Age of Reason by Nora Hague (all three of which are fabulous books and if you've liked one, you should read the others) will love this book as well.

The Guernsey Literray and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Hardcover: $22 9780385340991

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